By Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE national cricket team coach Lalchand Rajput has urged the young players in the Chevrons squad to seize their opportunity during the upcoming limited overs series against Pakistan as he looks to add new blood in his ageing side.
From the squad that is currently touring Pakistan for the One Dai International (ODI) and Twenty20 International (T20I) series which gets underway on Friday, eight players in the 20-member Test squad were over 30 years.
The list includes the likes of captain Chamu Chibhabha, Sikandar Raza, Tendai Chisoro, Craig Ervine, Brendan Taylor, Sean Williams, Elton Chigumbura and Donald Tiripano.
This means almost half the players in the current national team set up will be on the wrong side of the 30s by the time the Chevrons hope to return to the big stage at the 2023 ICC World Cup to be hosted by India, Zimbabwe Cricket need to have the future in mind.
Zimbabwe’s Indian coach Rajput, who stayed behind from the Pakistan tour after a special request by the Indian Embassy in Harare, believes that makes now the right time to bring young players into his aging squad.
“We are going to try and push some youngsters into the team,” he said, describing how valuable it is for rookie batsmen Wesley Madhevere and Milton Shumba, both 20, to share the dressing room with seasoned veterans such as Brendan Taylor and Sikandar Raza.
“Hopefully the youth take the opportunity and grab the match experience – how to prepare, how to go about the game.”
The 19-year-old Madhevere, fresh from the Under-19 Cricket World Cup in South Africa, made a positive start to international cricket after emerging as Zimbabwe’s best performer during the tour of Bangladesh early this year.
Madhevere, who has represented Zimbabwe at the last three ICC Under-19 World Cups, was impressive with the bat, notching up his maiden half ton while also showing a lot of promise with the ball.
Shumba who has also played alongside Madhevere at the Under-19 World Cup will be hoping for a similarly sold introduction to international cricket during the Pakistan tour.
Zimbabwe are boosted by the return of paceman Blessing Muzarabani after a two-year stint with English county Northamptonshire, with the lanky star expected to add a new dimension to the team’s bowling resources.
Meanwhile, all 107 COVID-19 tests conducted on Zimbabwe and Pakistan players, support staff and match officials have returned negative ahead of the limited-overs series starting later this week, the Pakistan Cricket Board said Tuesday.
The tests were conducted Monday as part of the PCB’s COVID-19 protocols for the bilateral series.
All players, officials and staff have moved into a hub in a five-star hotel in Islamabad, the PCB said, and “are now allowed to interact with each other and move freely within the bio-secure bubble.”
Both teams will start training Tuesday at the Pindi Cricket Stadium, which will host the three ODIs and three Twenty20 internationals.
The series begins with a one-dayer on Friday. Lahore was originally scheduled to host the Twenty20 series, but those matches were shifted because of expected smog next month.